Bullet fragments ‘still in my shoulder’: Former Beach officer describes being shot during child porn raid

Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The lead detective in a child pornography investigation that ended in a shootout in June 2017 described in court Tuesday how he was shot as he went through the suspect’s door.

Ryan Sweeney led a team of officers up a narrow, dark and cluttered stairwell to the garage apartment of Bryan Cage in June 2017. By that time, Sweeney and other investigators had been monitoring Cage’s IP address for nearly a year.

Sweeney testified that once a ground-level door was breached with a battering ram, he led a team up the stairs to a locked interior door that led to the apartment. Sweeney and a fellow officer were able to force that door open, and once he entered and turned toward the living area, he was immediately shot twice in the shoulder.

Sweeney testified that Cage kept firing and he returned fire and retreated back into the stairwell and eventually outside. At one point, Sweeney realized he could no longer lift his right hand to fire his Glock 9mm police pistol and had to fire left-handed.

Bullets were now coming through the wall from inside the apartment toward the adjoining stairwell, according to Sweeney and several other current and former officers who were there. As the bullets pierced the drywall, officers said the puffs of dust made it hard to see the top of the stairs.

A Virginia Beach SWAT team was called in, and Cage eventually surrendered after about four hours.

Cage is on trial for attempted capital murder of a police officer, 41 counts of shooting in an occupied dwelling, possession of child pornography, and possession of more than five pounds of marijuana that he is accused of growing inside the apartment, among other charges.

Sweeney was taken by ambulance to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital after being shot in the shoulder, where he remained for six days and had two surgeries. In addition to needing plates and screws to rebuild two broken bones, he said the bullet fragments “are still in my shoulder” in Tuesday’s testimony.

Cage’s defense attorney Diane Toscano said in her opening statement that Cage did not shoot Sweeney, and instead he was shot by fellow officers who were “shooting wildly and using reckless and aggressive police tactics.”

Prosecutors Scott Lang and Kari Kolar are expected to present forensic evidence to refute that theory, based on the path of the bullets that struck Sweeney.

Although Cage faces 100 counts of possession of child pornography, prosecutors say that investigators seized more than 15,000 images stored on a dozen devices that Cage downloaded over a period of more than 10 years.

The trial continues Wednesday morning.

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